Three Witnesses Testify Against Akpobolokemi, Others

AkpobolokemiThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has presented three new prosecution witnesses against a former Director- General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi.

Akpobolokemi is standing trial alongside five others, before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos in a 2.3billion Naira money laundering charge preferred against them by the EFCC.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Thursday, two of the witnesses, Yahaya Yusuf and Wakili Dauda, who are both Bureau De Change operators, told the court how they received and changed into dollars, various sums of money on behalf of the second accused person, Captain Ezekiel Agaba.

The monies: 230.9 million Naira, 145.3 million Naira and another 85.5 million Naira were paid between November 7 and 14, 2014 from a company ‘Extreme Vertex Nigeria Limited’ into an account: Kofar Fada Nigeria Limited, belonging to the Bureau De Change operators.

Extreme Vertex Nigeria Limited was one of the companies alleged to have benefited from the disbursement of over two billion Naira from the Committee on International Shipping and Port Security (ISPS) in NIMASA.

The witnesses confirmed that after the money was credited into the account, the dollar equivalent of the entire sum was taken to the second accused person’s office in NIMASA and handed to him.

A 9th prosecution witness, Olamide Ogunsanya, an Assistant Director with NIMASA, also told the court that her department is in charge of revenue collection, processing and payment of contracts and that all payments in the agency were approved by Mr Akpobolokemi.

Affirming that no payment could be made in NIMASA without the approval of the former Director- General, she identified the second accused person, Captain Ezekiel Agaba, as the Chairman of the Committee on International Shipping and Port Security (ISPS), disclosing to the court that he was reporting directly to Akpobolokemi.

She confirmed that the approval for constituting the Committee was obtained from the Presidency through the office of the National Security Adviser, stressing that it was Akpobolokemi that obtained the approval.

The witness explained that the instruction for payments through the Committee, normally emanates from Akpobolokemi to Agaba, who will then issue a memo to the Director of Financial Services to make payments to any beneficiary stated in the memo.

She told the court that on four occasions between June 2013 and August 2014, the ISPS account received monies in the sum of 2 billion Naira; 1.1 billion Naira; 795 million Naira and 447 million Naira respectively.

Ogunsanya identified the account opening packages of the Committee domiciled at Access Bank and Zenith Bank. The documents were then admitted into evidence as exhibits.

According to the witness, all approvals for the release of the above sums were obtained from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation by Akpobolokemi.

She was subsequently shown the approval for the release of the sum of 1.1 billion Naira which she identified and same was also admitted as exhibit.

Justice Buba has adjourned the matter to March 1, for continuation of trial.

Former NIMASA Boss’ Trial Begins

former NIMASA boss, Patrick AkpobolokemiThe trial of the former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime & Safety Agency, (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, started on Monday.

Mr Akpobolokemi was arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos along with three others – Captain Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan – and three companies, namely Blockz and Stonz Limited, Kenzo Logistics Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistic Limited.

The former Director General of NIMASA was also accused of defrauding the Federal Government to the tune of 795.2 million Naira.

The court sitting how part of the 2.6 billion Naira allegedly stolen by Mr Akpobolokemi was disbursed.

In a 22-count charge by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), they were accused of converting a total of 2,658 billion Naira between December 23, 2013 and May 28, 2015.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

Disbursements

The EFCC opened trial with its first witness, Teslim Ajuwon, who was the Compliance Officer at Zenith Bank.

Mr Ajuwon said he was responsible for inquiries from regulatory agencies such as the EFCC, the police, NDLEA, among others.

He said he received inquiries from EFCC for a report of activities on some accounts, including Aruwo Consulting Limited, Extreme Vertex Limited, Southern Options Limited, Green Lemon Services and Committee on ISPS.

Mr Ajuwon further said that the bank received a request to produce account opening package of the companies as well as their financial statements.

The witness said the fourth defendant, Governor Juan, was paid 11 million Naira on September 9, 2014, while Kenzo Logistics, also a defendant, got 10 million Naira the same day.

For the Committee on ISPS account, there was an inflow of 14.2 million Naira on June 17, 2014 from Access Bank; 21.2 million Naira on March 5, 2015; 16 million Naira on May 5, 2015; and 21.2 million Naira on June 18, 2015.

He said the monies were later disbursed, leaving only 1.4 million Naira as balance on June 18, 2015.

Mr Ajuwon said that 10 million Naira was transferred to Uchenna Emenalo on June 19 while another 11 million Naira was transferred to him the same day.

He said on August 29, 2014, there was a credit of 795.2 million Naira into the Committee on ISPS account from NIMASA.

The witness said it was followed by several payments amounting to 27 million Naira to Ekene Nwauche between September 16 and November 18, 2014.

According to him, 318 million Naira was paid to Extreme Bracket on November 6, 2014, while Avant Guard Security Services got 94 million Naira.

Several other companies also received payments. According to the witness, on January 8, 2015, Soko Global Services got 15.7 million Naira; Alfa Convoy got 6.9 million Naira; R-World Consulting got 70 million Naira, while O2 Services Plus Limited got 21.2 million Naira on March 5, 2015.

Mr Ajuwon further explained that on May 28, 2015, NIMASA made a lodgment of 447 million Naira, which was also disbursed to different companies.

They include 95 million Naira to Avant Guard on May 28, 2015; 46 million Naira to R-World Consulting; and seven million Naira to Green Lemon Consulting.

During cross-examination by Mr Akpbolokemi’s lawyer, the witness said he did not see the first accused’s name in the documents he tendered.

“I’ve looked through Exhibits 1-12, I did not see the name of the first defendant,” he said.

Justice Buba, however, adjourned the case till Tuesday, January 19, 2016 for continuation of the trial.